Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade – Book Review

abuse
I logged onto Facebook one morning to see that an old time pro-life friend had tagged me in a link. The link was to an article on Christianity Today and the picture at the head of the article (the one that is the header for this article!) was of the two of us holding up five foot tall prenatal development signs outside of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Colorado.
The signs were bright and beautiful, showing a precious child curled up snug and safe in its mommy’s womb, with child-like text exclaiming tiny miracles for each month. “Today I had a dream!” “Mommy just felt me kick!” They would make any sane, rational, life loving human being smile and marvel at the beauty and awesome complexity of the unborn.
So of course, all of the pro-abortion Democrats filing into the convention were hurling profanity, threats and curses at us for displaying such “disgusting imagery”. But I digress!

About Abuse of Discretion

The Christianity Today article was detailing the release of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe vs. Wade by Clarke D. Forsythe. Deeply interested in the subject (obviously) and highly intrigued by the concept of this book, I sent Mr. Forsythe an e-mail requesting a copy to review and he was kind enough to oblige.
From the dust jacket description:
Based on 20 years of research, including an examination of the papers of eight of the nine Justices who voted in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, Abuse of Discretion is a critical review of the behind-the-scenes deliberations that went into the Supreme Court’s abortion decisions and how the mistakes made by the Justices in 1971-1973 have led to the turmoil we see today in legislation, politics, and public health.
The first part of the book looks at the mistakes made by the Justices, based on the case files, the oral arguments, and the Justices’ papers. The second part critically examines the unintended consequences of the abortion decisions in law, politics, and women’s health.
Now, you guys know me. You know I am a book-a-holic. And you know that I am a pro-life activist. So it should come as absolutely no surprise that I have an extremely comprehensive library when it comes to this particular topic. So I can say with complete confidence that this book approaches the subject and history of abortion from a completely unique angle.
The arguments that pro-lifers make against the Roe v. Wade decision tend to center on the simple fact that abortion is murder, or that a fetus is NOT biologically “the mothers body”, or press the issue that there is no “right to privacy” in the Constitution. What is different about Mr. Forsythe’s book is that he goes beyond those arguments and approaches the topic with a more liberal view of jurisprudence, in a book that reads with a very politically neutral tone.
Abuse of Discretion is painstakingly researched and exhaustively referenced. It spends ample time on each point, and revisits topics in an analytical fashion. It somehow manages to simultaneously not overly simplify and summarize complex issues, and yet not talk over your head or bore you to tears with complex legal writing. It is very well written, and for a book that is all about law, I was delighted to find that it does not require a law degree in order to follow along.
I consider myself extremely educated on the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton court cases, but I found myself highlighting, underlining and generally discovering new quotes, concepts and interactions that I had never before heard or known with each new page.

Some Interesting Examples

Abuse of Discretion goes over facts you may have known about the cases, for instance:
In the lower court hearings for Roe and Doe.. the parties did not present evidence – there were no trials – and the judges did not look at evidence. The federal court hearings in Roe and Doe were conducted without examination of medical or other evidence and without hearing witnesses subjected to cross-examination.
Then it follows the facts up with intricate details and exchanges during the trials that are not common knowledge (this was new to me!):
The question of where the “right to abortion” could be found in the Constitution became virtually a joke at the first argument. Sarah Weddington, (representing Roe in Roe vs. Wade) was willing to say the “right to abortion” could be found almost anywhere – “the due process clause, equal protection clause, the Ninth Amendment, and a variety of others..” The statement was so weak that Justice Stewart quipped “and anything else that might obtain”, provoking laughter from the audience. To which Weddington responded, “Yeah, right” and laughed.
Mr. Forsythe meticulously outlines the vital questions that went unanswered during the oral arguments in the abortion cases, including:
What are the long-term risks to women from abortion?
How did the so-called abortion reform laws enacted in thirteen states between 1967 and 1970 operate?
Who would end up performing abortions? Would regular ob-gyns, with long term relationships with the patients?
Could local or state public health officials regulate facilities?
What would happen to all those back alley abortionists?
Who would track deaths and injuries and short term and long term risks from legal abortions for the future of women’s health?
Would women be fully informed before undergoing the procedure?
If the Court struck down the existing laws, what would fill the public health vacuum and who would monitor the safety of abortion practice?
What evidence was there that abortion had ever been considered a right in history?
How had states enforced their laws historically, and more specifically over the past two decades with advancing medical technology?
What efforts had states made to make abortion law enforcement more effective?
Could and would the states increase legal protection for the unborn child in the case of third party assailants outside the context of abortion? What about wrongful death law, or prenatal injury law, or criminal law?
What would be the impact of advancing fetal medicine and therapy?
What would be the social impact from excluding men, including husbands, from the abortion decision?
Mr. Forsythe points out clearly and concisely how the failure to ask and answer these questions, among many others, sowed the seeds for the political, legislative, and public health problems that we have had for nearly forty years, which have resulted in modern day horrors like those seen with the late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
After reading this book, you WILL see the sordid drama of Roe vs. Wade in a whole new light.
Ultimately, the road to Roe was designed and built as a detour around public opinion and the democratic process. Time and time again, when the matter of abortion was in the hands of We the People, abortion laws kept coming before state legislatures, and every single time, reform and repeal laws were not passed.
In its entire history, Roe vs. Wade has been rejected by the majority of Americans, even pro-abortion Americans, that have always favored common sense restrictions and safety measures for women.
If abortion isn’t “your issue”, this is still an amazing account of judicial history. Regardless of what your personal views of abortion are, learning the details behind the shady actions of the Supreme Court in this historic case are both fascinating and frightening when you consider the gross abuse of power.
If you are a pro-life individual, you NEED to read this book! I can think of only a handful of books that are “one-stop shops” to become thoroughly informed on the abortion topic, and this book is now one of them. Check it out!

Pro-life? Pro-choice? (Politely) share why below!

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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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